Sealed with a kiss!

Sealed with a kiss!
Laura & Chris' Wedding at JCRaulston Arboretum

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sara and Troy's wedding at Fearrington in the Dovecote Garden

Weddings at Fearrington are always so elegant and picturesque. See that arbor just bedecked with beautiful flowers and the shephard hooks with flowers along the aisle. They always flow smoothly due to the careful and organized services of the staff who thinks of every little detail, even bug spray! Barbara Yeates was the director for this wedding and it flowed seamlessly, of course! Thanks, Barbara, it is always a pleasure to work with you!

We got rained on at the Friday night rehearsal and the forecast was the same for Saturday, but gratefully, we had a gentle breeze and no raindrops fell. It was hot though--upper 90s! Marty and I set up my sound system with the battery pack since no power was accessible nearby. I would estimate that there were 200 guests and all of them could hear the beautiful ceremony that Troy and Sara created for their wedding.

Troy and Sara chose to have her sister, Hunter, as Matron of Honor and his brother-in-law, John, as Best Man. They had 7 other honorary attendants who processed in and were seated up front during the ceremony. Troy's sister, Amanda, and wife of John the best man, sang a beautiful song "I Will" during the ceremony accompanied by friends playing guitars. It was great! Their adorable daughter Isabella was the flower girl and made it all the way down the aisle sprinkling a few petals here and there. I also did not hear a peep out of her during the ceremony. John had told me just before the wedding started that she was a chatterbox and he was worried about her being quiet. Somehow, Isabella got the message! You can see her in the photo to the left. They also had a cute little ring bearer, Sara's nephew,Taylor, who is not yet 2 years old. Hunter (his mother) brought him in with her as he dragged the ring pillow alongside of him! I did not hear him during the ceremony either! Sara's father, Burt, escorted her in and transferred her hand to Troy's and the ceremony began. See in the photo what a gorgeous beaded gown Sara wore. Their beautiful wedding cake was "beaded" also. It was made by the Fearrington in house cake baker! Kevin with Joe Bunn DJ was the videographer and Missy McLamb Photographers covered the still photography.

Sara and Troy put together a very meaningful wedding ceremony from my material in which we sweetly remembered Sara's mother, Nelson, who has passed on from this earth. We honored her father, Burt, and Troy's parents, Maureen and Dickie, in a tribute to them as well. They included the blessing of the hands followed by the vows and then the ring exchange, then the pronouncement and kiss! We closed with a blessing that ended with these words: "Long long years from now, may you look at each other and be able to say 'Because of you, I have lived the life I always wanted to live--because of you, I have become the person I longed to be.'" Then I presented the newlywed couple to their guests and down the aisle they went to the lively tune "Cumberland Gap." Marty, my "roadie" who was snapping photos with my camera, heard Troy say as they passed by her "We're married!" It was a great wedding and I was honored to be a part of their big day! All the best, Sara and Troy!

Lindsey and Marq's wedding in the White Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh

Lindsey emailed me on 6/21/08: "My fiancee and I have been dating over 7 years and have finally decided to get married. We have planned a trip to Turks and Caicos and originally wanted to get married there. Our immediate family expressed interest in witnessing us get married so we have decided to have a very private ceremony at an outdoor location. There will only be approximately10 people total at the ceremony."

Since their wedding was planned for 11:00 AM, I was available. They chose the White Garden with the gazebo and stone walls at the Raulston Arboretum where I have done many weddings. Their parents and grandmothers were there to witness and celebrate this wonderful occasion and I enjoyed chatting with them before the ceremony. They were so excited that Lindsey and Marq were getting married! One of their mothers told me that the government of their destination island required that the couple show proof that they were not not married to other people! How do you do that? I looked on line and here are the requirements to get a marriage license in Turks & Caicos which are a lot more strenuous (and expensive) than in NC. So, it was wise of them to get legally married in NC and enjoy their trip to the islands as a honeymoon!

The garden was lovely and abundant with bees but they kept to themselves as we had a simple yet sweet ceremony inside the gazebo. Their parents really appreciated the tribute to them: "Lindsey and Marq would like to acknowledge their parents on this occasion. They offer their profound gratitude to you for all the love and care you have given them throughout their lives. The unconditional gifts of love and support that you have continually offered have inspired them to become who they are today, and they thank you, from the bottom of their hearts, for guiding them to this celebration of love here today. We thank you and we honor you." We had a reading from First Corinthians then they said their vows, exchanged rings, and I pronounced them husband and wife followed by the kiss! I got their mothers to sign as witnesses on the license, took some photos, and left them to celebrate the occasion!

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Blue and White Wedding for Kate and Ryan!

Kate and Ryan were united in marriage today, June 20, 2008, in the beautiful gazebo and pergola at the Wagner House in Clayton. It was a beautiful day with a nice breeze that could have turned into a storm but thankfully it passed over us! Brenda Avent, the owner of Wagner House and assisted by her sweet husband and son, is so innovative. Just when I think there is nothing possible to add or change about the property, the next time I am there, it is further enhanced. She just never runs out of ideas in spite of having recently recovered from a serious health challenge!

Kate and Ryan thoroughly planned their color scheme of royal blue and crisp white: the bride's train had an insert of royal blue with white embroidery and a bodice trim of the same, the chaircovers were white with blue ribbon, the bridesmaids' dresses were royal blue, the white roses in the bride's bouquet were tipped with blue, the cake was royal blue (by Sweet Memories), one of the vases of sand was blue, and to fit in, I made myself a new prayer stole of royal blue. We were all so well coordinated, even Virginia, the mother of the bride wore royal blue! (I am seeing lots of blues for attendants' dresses this year.)

Kate and Ryan came up with a unique solution to the issue of how to get all the photos done before the wedding so they could be with their guests immediately after the ceremony versus the groom not seeing the bride on the wedding day until she walked down the aisle. So, Brandi Autry, photographer, got all the family photos and wedding party photos done with the bride and groom separately from 4:00 to 5:00. Then a private meeting of the bride and groom was staged at 5:00 under the pergola with just the photographer present catching that sweet moment of seeing each other for the first time on their wedding day. I came into the area to do a sound check after a while and caught them kissing and teased them that they weren't supposed to kiss--yet! They told me they were just doing the homework I assigned them at the rehearsal--to practice their kiss for the ceremony! We all had a good laugh!

The ceremony began on time at 6:00 with all the guests present--a full house. The attendants and I waited for the bride in the gazebo, then as she and her father approached the little bridge connecting the gazebo and pergola, Ryan walked over the bridge to have her dad transfer her hand to Ryan. Then they together crossed the bridge back to the wedding party and me. I love the symbolism of the bride and groom making some physical step or bridge as taking their relationship up to a higher level. I also am different from other ministers in that I like for the bride and groom to face each other holding hands during the whole ceremony. It has always seemed so stilted to me for the bride and groom to stand on either side of the minister not touching during the ceremony until the rings. Standing facing each other allows the bride and groom to look easily at each other, their guests and me.

Ryan and Kate put together a wonderful ceremony that was warm and welcoming to their guests, endearing to their parents, and included the sand pouring ceremony. Ryan is a bit shy about speaking in front of people so they had me ask them the questions to which they replied "I do." Then they chose ring vows that were only two lines repeated after me. We finished the ceremony in exactly 20 minutes from start to finish which is exactly what they wanted.

I had developed a chest cold with a tickly cough earlier in the week and was so afraid I might start coughing during the ceremony and once started, the coughing goes on and on. But I stashed a bottle of water near where I was standing and kept sucking the cough lozenges and made it through just fine with only one swig of water as the bride came in (all eyes were on her so no one noticed me except the best man)! With my Countryman E6 wireless theater mike, I don't have to strain my voice and can speak in a normal tone, and that sure helped a lot today!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lisalynn and Ron's Wedding at All Saints Chapel in downtown Raleigh

Lisalynn and her mother Carol contacted me last fall about officiating Lisalynn and Ron's wedding at All Saints Chapel which was due to open in 2008. This was the first I had heard of this new wedding venue in Raleigh. The chapel was built in 1875 by the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in the Gothic style with clerestory windows in line with the grandeur of European churches but smaller in scale. Between 1899 and 1914, the chapel was moved from its original location on the corner of Hillsborough and McDowell Streets to Morgan Street to make way for a new building. In 2006, the chapel was moved again to its present location on S. East Street near the corner of East and Hargett Streets.

With a penchant for history and a belief that the All Saints Chapel historical renovation would be a perfect site for their downtown wedding, Lisalynn and Ron became involved and watched the chapel return to an historical 1914 look-and-feel with a front room coupled with 150 year old lumber and materials, by perservationist Greg Hatem. Lisalynn and Ron are one of the first couples to be married in the restored chapel. It was my first wedding in All Saints Chapel and it was terrific. It is quite large and will seat 130+ in the sanctuary and has a full basement with space for receptions plus the parking lot where a tent could be put up. Misty Ash, the event manager there, was on top of everything and very organized and helpful. Thanks, Misty! I have another wedding scheduled there in September and look forward to it.

Ron and Lisalynn's wedding day was Sunday, June 15th, also Father's Day. The reception was held at Caffe Luna and they had their guests park near Caffe Luna and hired a trolley to transport their guests the few blocks from Caffe Luna to the chapel for the wedding and back to Caffe Luna for the reception. What a great way to continue the historical theme of the day!

Now to Ron and Lisalynn's lovely wedding! Lisalynn's father escorted her down the aisle and then transferred her hand over to Ron. The couple stepped up onto the altar and the ceremony began. We welcomed all the guests, making them feel like an intimate part of the ceremony. We thanked their parents for all they had contributed to their lives to this moment and paid tribute to Ron's late father and his influence in Ron's life. Lisa's sister, Lauren, presented a reading The Key to Love by Robert M. Millay.

They chose to incorporate the Celtic tradition of hand fasting into their ceremony--such wonderful symbolism as they joined their hands in the configuration of the symbol for infinity in this historical setting. They said their vows then exchanged rings. Next came the lighting of the Unity candle which proved to be a bit of a challenge since it was taller than the couple and Ron had to get up on the step of the higher altar to join their flames to light the candle but it was finally successfully lit! We had the pronouncement, kiss and in closing their guests read in unison The Irish Blessing to the couple and then they were on their way to their new life together!

Laura Byrne, harpist, and Pam Nelson, flautist, provided heavenly music! It was good to work with them again. Bob Taylor was the videographer. Bob and I see each other often at weddings and other gatherings. Melanie Fitzgerald with Cinema One was the still photographer. Misty, thanks to you and your assistant, Jill, for making this wedding flow so smoothly! I look forward to working with you again! That's Misty and me in the photo here. We really enjoyed working together!

Jon and Nicole created a unique unity ceremony for their wedding.

Jon and Nicole decided to get married on short notice when they found out that both sets of parents could be present Father's Day weekend. They contacted me and we made the arrangements for their wedding June 15th in their new home in Angier. I sent them a proposed ceremony and told them to make whatever changes they wanted and send it back to me. Their internet was down for a few days at the last minute but it came through Saturday night and I saw their new ceremony for the first time. They took what I told them to heart and had completely re-written the ceremony, really making it theirs! I love that! They came up with a special candle lighting and rock combining ritual. See photo.

During the ceremony their mothers lit green candles symbolizing new beginnings and their love for Jon and Nicole. Nicole was represented by a blue candle signifying the vastness of the sky and also connectedness and her father lit that candle showing his love for her. Jon's candle was red, meaning how one person can make a difference. Jon's father lit that candle showing his love for Jon. The couple had placed green colored glass floral pebbles into a clear glass rectangular container representing the heritage of Jon and Nicole from their families. To this foundation, Nicole combined their blue pebbles and red pebbles to strengthen their foundation of commitment to self, each other, and family. They had written special vows to each other which they spoke during the ceremony followed by their wedding vows which they read in unison to each other. After the pronouncement, kiss, and signing of the marriage license, Marty and I departed and the couple and their parents went off to plant a tree together to commemorate their marriage!

Special Father's Day Wedding for Arena and Chuck at The Umstead

Angie Wright of Chic Details, a wedding planner I have worked with many times in the past, called me one day back in March, I believe, looking for a male officiant. I sent her my list of ministers which included a few men. Then she called me back in a few days and said that the couple and her mother had looked over my website and decided they wanted to hire me to officiate, that they had just not considered a woman officiant until they saw me. Well, I was delighted and later met with Arena and Chuck and her mother 'Lyn to talk about the ceremony they wanted. I sent Chuck and Arena a bunch of material and they put together a short but very meaningful wedding ceremony. So, Angie planned a fantastic wedding at The Umstead on Sunday morning, June 15th. The pedestals topped with large sprays of flowers and pale yellow rose petals generously sprinkled around and between the pedestals and down the sides of the aisle created an elegant setting for the wedding ceremony. Arena's grandfather escorted her down the aisle and "handed her off" to Chuck. We honored Arena's late father, Cary, during the ceremony and how influential he had been in Arena's life. They told me they actually chose Father's Day for their wedding in his honor. In the ceremony Chuck and Arena wanted to reflect on how they had met and fallen in love because most of their guests had not heard their story. So, that was incorporated into the ceremony and the guests loved hearing it. We had a parents' blessing, prayer and then the vows and ring exchange. We concluded with the pronouncement, the kiss--of course, and the closing blessing and Chuck and Arena walked down the aisle together beaming. They sure seemed meant for each other:)

Anita Burroughs Price provided wonderful music for the prelude and ceremony on her beautiful golden harp. Neil Boyd was the photographer and Lenny Fritts was the DJ for the reception. Donna Ford of Sweet Memories provided the beautiful wedding cake. Angie (photo on the left), you sure know how to put together a fantastic wedding team! Thanks!

Katie and Greg's wedding that mushroomed!

Katie and Greg came to see me in January to talk about me officiating their wedding in November 2008 and we signed a contract. Then, in March they called to say they had decided not to wait until November and wanted to have a small wedding on June 14th with just family and a few close friends. They would forgo the bridesmaids and groomsmen and do a much simpler affair. Ah, yes, or so they thought! Well as the weeks progressed, each time I checked with Katie, the number of guests grew and grew to a final crowd of 75 with three attendants each, Adam--a friend who is a DJ, and all the trimmings! They pulled it all together and it was beautiful though the humidity and heat also kept increasing that day! They had their wedding in Greg's father, Charlie's backyard. They got a gazebo and put up tents and chairs. Katie was a beautiful bride and her bridesmaids wore brilliant red dresses. We had a sand pouring ceremony which their kids, Carter and Luke, loved being part of. Carter escorted in the bride and Luke came in with a pretty little flower girl. So you see, you can pull together a nice wedding in a short amount of time! Congratulations, Greg and Katie.

Robin and John marry in their new home!

After two rehearsals Saturday morning June 14th for Sunday weddings, Marty and I headed up to Youngsville into Granville County to find the beautiful new home Robin and John built and have been in for one week! You could not tell they had just moved in--it was picture perfect. Their family was all waiting for me and ready to go with the wedding. So, flanked by Robin's daughter, Ginger, and John's grandkids Dante, Sheridan and Jayden, John and Robin became husband and wife. Dante was the ring bearer and did a very responsible job of holding on to those rings! It was a tearful but sweet ceremony in which everyone in the family was remembered and honored. With the knot tied, the witnesses signed the marriage license, we posed for some photos and it was time to go celebrate! PS--Marty and I had noticed a roadside stand on the way there so on the way back, we stopped and loaded up on okra, strawberries and good old homegrown tomatoes. I love tomato sandwiches! It was worth the trip just for the veggies! All the best, John and Robin!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mid-week Wedding in the Rose Garden

Mark and Edyta chose to get married Thursday morning June 12th at the lovely Raleigh Rose Garden located behind the Raleigh Little Theater. The roses were so pretty and so was the radiant bride. Mark's sister, Natalie, and her children, and his aunt, Randi, were the guests. Edyta's son, Jacob, age 12, was the best man and ring bearer. Her daughter, Maia, age 8, was a flower girl along with Mark's niece. We celebrated Mark and Edyta finding each other, remembered their parents who could not be with us, they exchanged their vows and rings, and then to symbolize the birth of this new family, we had a sand pouring ceremony. The ceremony ended with a kiss and then we posed for photos in the beautiful garden surrounding us. I forgot to bring my camera so their photographer, Tina Loeback, sent me these photos for this post. Thanks, Tina!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Despite the heat, Lena and Josh were soooo happy to be married at last!

Josh and Lena planned a small gathering of family and friends for their wedding June 8th at Magnolia Cottage at Lake Johnson at Raleigh. By 7:00 PM the heat had somewhat subsided and we did their ceremony out on the back deck. Lena carried a beautiful bouquet of fragrant star-fire lillies. We honored their parents and Lena's sons Malichi and Javin. Javin could not be with us so Malichi did double duty as a groomsman and ring bearer. We did a sand ceremony that included Malichi and Javin representing the family unity of this newly joined family. See photos before and after the ceremony. After the ceremony everyone was happy to go back inside and celebrate the newlywed couple!

A lovely indoor wedding at Brier Creek Country Club

Tracy and James wisely decided on the Thursday before their wedding at Brier Creek Country Club on Sunday June 8th to move it indoors due to the extreme heat forecast for the weekend. Their wedding party and parents, their guests, musicians, photographers and I thank them profusely for their kind decision. It was 103 degrees that day! We all enjoyed the cool air inside!
The change in venue did not alter in any way their wonderful wedding ceremony. James' father, Norman, wrote a terrific poem for the occasion and enjoyed reading it to us all. Tracy's aunt, Lynn, shared words from Pablo Neruda with us. We remembered those who could not be present and honored the parents. We asked for a community blessing from all present and they enthusiastically offered their support of their marriage. Tracy and James chose to include a handfasting ritual for the exchange of their vows in which their clasped hands and crossed arms formed the symbol of infinity "blessing their marriage in the ebb and flow of the universe."

Their wedding cake by Diane Fischer was one of the prettiest I have ever seen. I don't know Diane; she must be a friend of the couple. Their favors were "green" hearts filled with seeds to grow wildflowers when planted. They also had a very nice wedding program filled with information for the guests. James' brother, David, who is a picture editor with The New York Times, took the wedding photographs. Greg and Ray, fabulous violin/viola duet, provided the beautiful music. I love working with those guys!

It is always a pleasure to do weddings at Brier Creek Country Club. Rebecca Lyons and her staff are really on the ball and ready to do whatever needs to be done. Besides, whether the wedding is indoors or outdoors, the setting is gorgeous!
Another plus for this wedding was the fact that Tracy and James were referred to me by their good friends Jackie and Rob whose wedding I officiated 3 years ago at Brier Creek. Jackie was Tracy's matron of honor and Rob got drafted into directing the wedding! It was wonderful to see them again and see them so happy to be with each other!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Another great wedding at the Stone Chapel in Wake Forest!

I met with Maria back last July to plan their wedding ceremony. I met Ray for the first time at the rehearsal on Friday. Maria was born in Puerto Rico and Ray in the Dominican Republic and they found each other in North Carolina. It was obvious seeing them together that they were very much in love! We had quite a large wedding party with two maids of honor and 5 bridesmaids and a best man and 5 groomsmen! The rehearsal was a bit imprecise since several people in the wedding party were not there but it all came together beautifully for the wedding day!
Maria's father escorted her down the aisle and transferred her hand to Ray as her eyes filled with tears. (I handed her a hankie at that point--I carry pretty hankies that I collect and give to the brides, and not infrequently the grooms, who tear up at their weddings!) Maria's sister, Lourdes, and one maid of honor, Kenyatta, presented lovely readings. The bride and groom lit a unity candle and read their vows to each other from my book where I had printed them facing the couple. Their sweet kiss after the pronouncement brought on much applause and cheering! We closed with the Indian Wedding Blessing and I presented the newlyweds to their guests after which they jubilantly recessed down the aisle to more cheering!
Weddings at the Stone Chapel are always fun and Ranee and her assistant Corey did a great job behind the scenes. See the photo of one of the pretty stained glass windows in the chapel. After the wedding the wedding party reassembled for photographs by their photographer, Dan Hadley. Meanwhile Marty and I packed up my sound system and headed home to relax and get rested in all this heat for the two weddings the next day!